• Marlboro owner Altria invests $1.8B in marijuana company

    By: Ann Smajstrla, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    The tobacco company that owns Marlboro is hoping to boost business by investing $1.8 billion in a marijuana company. 

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    Media outlets report Altria made the deal Friday with Canadian cannabis company Cronos group. The investment will give Altria a 45 percent stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55 percent over the next five years.

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    The deal may have been prompted by stagnant cigarette sales -- CNN reports Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25 percent this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1 percent this year and in 2019.

    Cronos shares rose more than 30 percent early Friday. Altria shares were up 2 percent.

    Altria CEO Howard Willard said in a statement that the investment "represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria."

    Altria isn't the first company to make a big investment in marijuana. In August, Corona Beer owner Constellation Brands invested $4 billion in cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation.

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